Carol Payne, Interim Chief Executive of children's communication charity I CAN, responds to: Norfolk reverses huge cuts to boy’s speech therapy after legal challenge (Guardian 01/03/22)

02 March 2022

I CAN responds to: 'Norfolk reverses cuts to boy’s speech therapy' (Guardian 01/03/22)

It is crucial that adequate speech and language therapy remains firmly in place to help children struggling to speak and understand language. 

At I CAN, we know that as many as 50% of children start school struggling to speak and understand language. The pandemic has only exacerbated this issue. Ongoing cuts to services post pandemic only serve to dramatically reduce access to speech and language therapy provision, meaning that children and their families cannot get the right help at the right time.  

Our recent report, Speaking Up for the Covid Generation, paints a worrying picture for nearly 1.5 million children struggling to develop their speaking and understanding skills. 62% of primary school teachers and 60% of secondary school teachers we surveyed were worried that children currently behind will not be able to catch up.  

There is a clear lack of consistent government funding for support and effectively a postcode lottery for those with difficulties in speaking and understanding language. 

The Government’s forthcoming Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Review now has the potential to be transformative for children with speech, language and communication difficulties, the biggest group of children identified as having special educational needs, but it has been much delayed, and the pandemic has led to a worsening situation for many children and young people with these difficulties.

Substantial research evidence links good language and literacy development with long-term achievements in education, better social-emotional skills, good health, improved employment prospects and more opportunities for social mobility. 

It is vital that funding that was previously in place to support children - including for those with education, health and care plan (EHCPs) that legally entitle those children to speech and language therapy – is reinstated fully as soon as possible so that the Covid generation do not suffer long-term lasting harm. 

Carol Payne
I CAN Interim Chief Executive


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